Underestimating the Internet of Things

The ‘internet of things’ is what we get when we let machines talk to each other. Hoorah! Yippee! Our industry becomes ecstatic at the prospect of extra traffic generating additional revenues. In other words, our industry does what it always does: it starts counting the revenues before it considers the costs. And when I mean costs, I mean more than the up-front costs that make their way into a cost-benefit analysis. I mean the hidden costs, when things do not work properly, when customers are unhappy, and when we failed to consider the implications for what we are doing. After attending CES 2013, Andrew Rose of Forrester Research wrote a succinct but timely article for Wired, highlighting the security downside to the ‘internet of things’. You can read it here, and I recommend you do.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

1 Comment on "Underestimating the Internet of Things"

  1. Avatar Rob Chapman | 5 Feb 2013 at 12:54 pm |

    I like this. I’m always keen to think about the regulatory impacts of such readily available and easily obtained data, though sometimes forget to consider other areas of risk surrounding, not just the intelligence that can be gained from the raw data but, the potential for ‘morally questionable and contemptible’ activity.

    There are many challenges which this poses, particularly around Big Data and Data Monetisation. For example…

    Legislation: it’s always seemingly a few paces behind innovation, IoT being a near perfect example. This will afford organisations to poll much more data for better insight. Whilst most of the larger and public facing entities would likely consider the implications of this by bearing in mind negative public opinion and the knowledge that regulatory restrictions would be imposed at some point, some won’t. Certainly smaller and short-term companies would look to benefit by exploiting this.

    Commonality: it is conceivable that, with the multitude of devices, languages and various protocols out there at the moment, the ability to interface and utilise data across these would require standardisation which isn’t there yet and won’t be for the foreseeable. You can almost imagine a war between the heavy hitters which would dwarf the petty wrangling of the likes of Apple and Samsung, for example. The need for this translation and standardisation when dealing with such vast amounts of data for so many sources in order to reconcile poses huge challenges to all businesses in all sectors – not just Telco’s and utilities companies. Even down to considering intercompany agreements to share data and all that that implies (from the basic contractual issues in such partnerships to an interconnect-like reciprocation agreement).

    As Eric rightly points out, the costs above and beyond the usual business case will be staggering when you consider maintenance, new data source implementation, new data format, end user reconciliation, maintaining valuable trend and insight analysis, and storage. That doesn’t even begin to consider such things as failures, complaints, lagging legislation which could render any implementation effectively worthless anywhere months to years down the line.

    I have mentioned it before, but in this respect, TR069 firmware capabilities are a great case in point. No doubt there is incredible value in gleaning such insights to better understand and leverage the value of a customer to maximise revenues and improve customer retention, but given the above risks and hidden costs, organisations can’t afford to simply jump in with both feet first. They must be responsible and consider the much wider and deeper implications of what information they gather and how they use it – if for no other reason then to safegaurd themselves.

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